It’s a case of deja vu for FC Dallas as another game in Houston ends 1-1. As the team heads to San Jose, lets hope the results from our last meeting don’t come back to haunt us as well.
San Jose, just like last game, is still in last place in the Western Conference, now with 17 points. Since the big win in Dallas at the beginning of the month, the San Jose Earthquakes have lost two more games with a draw in between. They would need to pick up at least two more wins to catch the closest team in the standings from either conference.
Also just like last time, Dallas is first in the conference with 46 points. But the lead is shrinking every week. SKC, on a four match win streak, is now only one point behind with 45 points and LAFC are third with 43 points. The draw against Houston has seen the Hoops really fall off the pace for the Supporter’s Shield. With wins from the top two teams, Dallas is now eight points back of Atlanta, with 54 points, and six points back from NYRB, who have 52 points. NYCFC was held to a draw last game so they now sit just two points ahead with 48 points.
As “they” say, a road point is a good result in MLS. “They” are full of…it. Sure, Houston is our “rival.” Yeah, we were missing some starters. Definitely, we didn’t play very well at all. No excuses, Dallas has played two games in Houston and come away with two points. Both should have been Dallas wins and six points more to our total, leaving us tied for second in the Support’s Shield standings. And if we come away with a single road point in this game, we will have wasted four games against two of the worst teams in the league.
San Jose came to town last game and thoroughly handled their business against Dallas. Vako scored twice and generally made life miserable for the Dallas backline, well, at least for Matt Hedges. If memory serves correctly (and Twitter highlights confirm) Jesse Gonzalez made a few notable blunders in the game and allowed San Jose to pick up the win. In what I’m sure is a total coincidence, Jesse did not travel for the game this week.
Since our last meeting, not much has changed in the way of style of play for San Jose. Why fix what works, right? Danny Hoesen is the leading goal scorer with 10 although he is on a long goalless streak of his own at the moment, having gone nine games with out finding the back of the net. He is followed by Wondo with seven goals, and Vako with six. One stat to keep an eye on is Chris Wondolowski’s chase for the all time goal scoring record for MLS. Wondo has scored 141 goals in his career and is only four goals behind Landon Donovan, with 145 goals all-time. He won’t reach it this game (he better not anyways) but he could continue the climb upward. The main contributor lately for San Jose has been Magnus Eriksson as he has scored in two of the past three games. The silver lining for FC Dallas is that San Jose still have a porous back line. Surprisingly, however, they are not the worst in the conference in goal differential (Hi Colorado) with only a minus 11. Even still, the Quakes are giving up almost two goals a game (1.8) and have conceded that exact ratio over their last three games (post FC Dallas win). The concern for Dallas right now should be that the Hoops themselves have only scored more than 1 goal once in their last four games.
Speaking of scoring, Maxi Urruti has brought his streak up to 14 games without a goal. No amount of tactical role or bad luck or whatever excuse kind of talk will dissuade me from saying - that is absolutely unacceptable. It’s hard to not ask for the FO to spend every last amount of Garber bucks they have on an adequate striker. Maxi is so lovable and does all the little things right. But the most important thing is what’s missing from his game. I’m starting to think that rather than being lucky to hang on to him, we missed our chance to offload him last summer.
With this being a two game week, we can expect a bit of rotation amongst the squad. As noted in the Squad Selection, Reto Ziegler did not travel to California and Roland Lamah is injured. Carlos Gruezo will also be missing due to card accumulation. Will we see Maynor Figueroa start (probably) or someone like Jordan Cano - or maybe even Moises Hernandez - pick up the start this week? It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Mosquera on the field and it would be nice to see him back in the lineup in place of Lamah. Of course, depending on the formation, there may not be room to start him as Barrios and Crown Prince Aranguiz take up the wings as they have lately. I’m not sure matching San Jose’s formation with a 4-4-2 of our own is my favorite idea, but it has been a favorite for Oscar Pareja for much of the season. Let’s also note that new signing Abel Aguilar will not be playing with the team this game, but will hopefully allow Papi to get some rest for Gruezo and Ulloa as the season winds down.
Key Matchup: Matt Hedges vs Vako
How could it be anyone else? Matt Hedges meets his arch nemesis (humor me for a second) Vako to continue their battle for superiority. Truthfully, this is more of an important game for the backline to try and scrape through without conceding a goal or many good chances. Dallas has only two clean sheets in their last ten games - both courtesy of Minnesota. What was once a hallmark of the team has become, if not an achilles heel, a cause for concern. Hopefully Dallas can curb the goals against this subpar Quakes side.
- Sleeping Offense: Dallas isn’t really known as an attacking side, per se, but on the season they are averaging 1.6 goals per game; almost directly in the middle of the league statistically. Someone - anyone - needs to wake up and start scoring before we start sliding down the standings.
- Keeper Conundrum - With word that Jesse didn’t travel for this game, it appears Coach has moved him into the doghouse; an annual tradition for Jesse. In his stead moves Jimmy Maurer to once again try and steal the job. Maurer actually started the season very strong before Jesse came back with a good run of games. I’m all for riding the hot hand, but, much like the striker problem, it would be nice to just have a no. 1 who the coaching staff (and fan base) could rely upon for an entire season.
- Two Game Week - as noted earlier, Dallas plays another game on Saturday (against Houston) and will need to manage some minutes this week. It would be nice to see some of the kids play, but I’ve come to realize it just isn’t going to happen this season, for whatever reason. Jacori Hayes should be making an appearance tonight in place of Gruezo, but you never know. Maybe one of the young guys, just one(!), can make it onto the field this week before our next new signing takes away those minutes.
Fun Fact - FC Dallas is now 1-2-4 in their last seven games against San Jose (Fun Facts: brought to you by Ben Lyon). Last time was clearly a trap game. Dallas was flying high, coming in hot after the big win in Kansas City and looking to extend their lead in the Western Conference against an easy opponent. This time, Dallas will be wary of the “worst” team in MLS. Call me crazy, but I think the Hoops come away with a win. Not a big, decisive win - I’m too superstitious to write that down - but 1-0 on the road seems doable for a team that needs to refocus after a really uneven stretch of games. Let’s get back on track with a win. Go Hoops!